Riverside Machine & Engineering: Standing on the Shoulders of Supercomputers

There are only a few names in the history of computers more renowned than Seymour Cray. He ranks among the top-tier pioneers of computing: in the company of giants such as Alan Turing, Steve Wozniak, Tim Berners-Lee, and Guy Lewis Steele. In 1976, he became the first person ever to build a so-called “supercomputer,” a computer able to perform huge sequences of complex functions in the course of a few seconds. Throughout his long tenure at the head of the Cray Computer Corporation, he developed facilities across America that could manufacture the sorts of computers used in managing complex systems – everything from NORAD to NASDAQ. Among the facilities he got going was the Cray Machining Facility,now known as our own Riverside Machine & Engineering here in Wisconsin.  To reduce the heat on the computers, Cray bought aluminum plates fused together to reduce heat-similar to a radiator. The problem was that suppliers were running at around 50% scrap which dramatically increased cost.  Seymour Cray decided to build a facility so he could produce his own cold plates and reduce the scrap level down to 17% on his own as well as improved delivery and to better control the schedules and demands to market.

As Cray computers gradually (in the mid 1990s) became outdated in the face of newer, more self-contained, and less pricey competition, Cray Computer Corporation found itself having to shut down multiple production and engineering facilities throughout North America, including the one now occupied by Riverside. Only a few months after the company had been sold to another corporate entity, Mr. Cray, the man and living legend, sadly passed away.

That’s where Metal Craft stepped into the fray, purchasing Cray Machining Center – of Cray’s north Wisconsin subsidiary, in 1996. We took the pioneering engineering processes developed by Cray Corporation and gave them the ultramodern update they needed. When we bought the facility, it was suffering from a 17% overall product scrap rate. By the time we were finished revamping and restructuring, a period that lasted only a few weeks, the scrap rate had become almost non-existent.

Here at Metal Craft/Riverside, we’d like to think we follow in the path-breaking spirit of Seymour Cray. Leaders in our own high-tech field, we take our cues from legendary forebears.

Seymour Cray’s only surviving talk; introducing the Cray-1  at UC Berkeley:

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